Having come from a career in criminal law, has the discipline of attention to detail and meticulous planning carried over to your writing career?
A court lawyer develops many skills, including the ability to double-guess what ‘the other side’ are going to come up with. The ability to get inside the mind of another is perhaps the greatest asset I developed which came in useful when I turned my mind to writing fiction.
When and where did you decide to change direction from dealing with criminals to
writing about crime?
I began writing as an ‘escape valve’ from the stresses of criminal practice long before I retired from it. Then my hobby became my full time activity.
Have you always been drawn to the certain periods of history in which you have based your series?
Like most students of school history I found the Tudor period of interest because of the colourful characters who stepped out of the otherwise dry pages. But my reading preference was for Dickens and Conan Doyle, so the late Victorian period beckoned, and most notably characters such as Jack the Ripper, who’d been covered so often in fiction that I had to find another angle. The female Ripper came naturally to mind, and ‘The Gaslight Stalker’ was born.
From post war Nottingham of your childhood you now have an extended family who live in New South Wales as you do? When did you make the life changing move from the UK to Australia and why?
I emigrated in 1989, for four reasons. I can list them as sun, surf, BBQs and Margaret Thatcher.
Which of your series has given you the greatest challenge to research and write and why?
Probably the Victorian one, for the reason so much was happening then, and finding a novel approach (no pun intended) was always a challenge.
The Tudor period has had a lot of books set within it. How have you achieved giving yours a unique approach or feel?
Back to earlier answers for this one. First of all, I was drawn to getting inside the heads of those monarchs about whom so much had already been written (e.g. how many times will a reader want to learn of Henry VIII’s lust for Anne Boleyn?). But I was first drawn towards Henry VII (‘Tudor Dawn’) and Cardinal Wolsey (‘The King’s Commoner’), because although their lives were pivotal to what followed, very few authors had thought them worthy of attention. Then it was a matter of seeing well known events from inside the heads of Jane Grey (‘The Uneasy Crown’), Mary Tudor and the young Elizabeth (‘The Queen in Waiting’), and finally Elizabeth in her own right (‘The Heart of a King’).
The Victorian period was one of many inventions in all aspects of life. How have you brought these into your Carlyle and West books to make your characters forward thinking for the time?
Following on from my fascination with Conan Doyle, I dreamed up a contemporary of his (Dr Carlyle) who would also have studied under Dr James Bell and acquired the same observational detective skills as Sherlock Holmes, who was based on Bell. Then I threw in the late Victorian obsession with Spiritualism, and the flourishing of Methodism, to give literary birth to the devout and naive Matthew West as a perfect foil for the scientific and experimental Carlyle.
Would you ever consider writing a series or a standalone novel based upon the early history of New South Wales?
I already have! There is a quartet of novels that cover four generations of the same family, from a convict guard on the First Fleet to a schoolteacher who becomes associated with Ned Kelly.
They are on a long list of my novels awaiting publication by Sapere.
Who has inspired you in your life and in your writing career?
As a criminal lawyer, I had a lifelong admiration of Norman Birkett. In a literary context I’ve already mentioned Dickens and Conan Doyle. Throw in Ken Follett and Hilary Mantel and you have the set.
How have you kept mentally and physically fit during the recent pandemics and
lockdown – or has it been more or less life a normal for you?
Like most full time writers with the luxury of being in retirement mode, nothing has changed except that my son and grandchildren live in an adjoining State whose borders have been either closed completely or made very difficult to cross. We haven’t seen them since January.
What is next for David Field?
Back to the beginning. I started writing for my own amusement, but after proving that I can get published (16 times and rising!) I’m back to writing what grabs me rather than simply for a publisher. I’ve always been fascinated by the ‘supernatural’, and I’m now into my second novel about a ‘Ghost Whisperer’ who can not only see and talk with ghosts, but sets about remedying the disorder that has led to the haunting, thereby ‘exorcising’ the problem for grateful and wealthy clients.